Unnecessary, Onerous Common Carrier Obligations Threaten To Destabilize These Providers’ Ability to Serve
PITTSBURGH, January 13, 2015 – The American Cable Association said that any newly adopted common carrier regulations for broadband access providers should be narrowly drawn and not burden small and medium-sized providers with additional – and unwarranted – common carrier regulation.
“The FCC should forbear from all Title II regulation for smaller ISPs in the event it decides to reclassify broadband Internet access service. Were the FCC to decline to forbear as a general matter, the industry – and consumers – would be burdened with new costs and potentially tremendous uncertainty related to the unanticipated consequences of Title II regulation, and with no offsetting benefit,” ACA President and CEO Matthew M. Polka said.
ACA’s views were stated in a letter sent to the FCC on Jan. 12 in connection with the agency’s expected Feb. 26 vote to reclassify all broadband service providers as telecommunications common carriers under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. ACA believes that such a move would not only be contrary to the factual record and be bad public policy, but also would lack a solid legal basis in every respect, but particularly with respect to application of these requirements on small and mid-size broadband Internet providers who are demonstrably not the source of any open Internet concerns.
ACA’s letter endorsed reliance on Sec. 706 as the appropriate legal vehicle for safeguarding an open Internet and accelerating broadband deployment. Under the FCC’s current “light-touch” policy, ACA members have introduced broadband Internet access service to some of the hardest to serve regions of the country through significant private capital investment in infrastructure to provide a suite of advanced communications services to homes, businesses and community institutions.
In the letter, ACA stated:
- The FCC cannot justify reclassification of broadband Internet access service and in any event lacks authority to compel common carrier status;
- Smaller ISPs do not have the incentive or ability to engage in unreasonable or discriminatory practices, much less anticompetitive acts, which harm consumers and edge providers;
- The FCC has no factual or policy basis to subject smaller ISPs’ broadband Internet access service for the first time to Title II common carrier regulation; and
- The FCC should forbear from applying the regulatory obligations applicable to Title II telecommunications carriers to these small ISPs and preempt inconsistent state telecommunications service regulation.
On Jan. 9, ACA, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) and the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA) sent a joint letter to FCC Chairman Wheeler to protest the lack of adequate consideration of the impact of Title II on smaller ISPs in its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) and Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA). Specifically, the groups called for an en banc hearing on Title II’s impact, followed by concrete steps to ameliorate the adverse economic impact prior to adoption of the rules.
About the American Cable Association: Based in Pittsburgh, the American Cable Association is a trade organization representing nearly 850 smaller and medium-sized, independent cable companies who provide broadband services for nearly 7 million cable subscribers primarily located in rural and smaller suburban markets across America. Through active participation in the regulatory and legislative process in Washington, D.C., ACA’s members work together to advance the interests of their customers and ensure the future competitiveness and viability of their business. For more information, visit https://acaconnects.org/